San Francisco Restaurants
The Anchovy Bar
1740 O'Farrell St., Fillmore
If you’re as obsessed with State Bird Provisions as we are, add Anchovy Bar to your SF roster. This slick, slate-gray space dishes up tasty platters of salty anchovies waiting to be smeared onto toasted ciabatta and topped with crisp radishes and crème Fraiche. This is the spot to dip into with a date or a friend to split grilled oysters, a few variations of those tiny, oily fish, and the unmissable Meyer lemon-miso clams. Images courtesy of Patricia Chang.
3340 E. 12th St., Oakland
Nyum Bai is all about contemporary takes on Cambodian classics with a soundtrack of sixties, Khmer rock and roll for the hungry diner. Savory clams in lemongrass broth, Khmer fried chicken, zingy shrimp, and what feels like a million spicy-salty-sweet-sour soups and sauces crowd the casual tables. Don’t leave without trying a Thai iced tea (the perfect ratio of black tea to cream to condensed milk) and the durian crème brûlée.
28 Waverly Pl., Chinatown
From the crew behind Mister Jiu’s, Moongate Lounge is that sexy, moody cocktail bar you dip into when dinner’s over but you’re not ready to go home. An exciting drinks list feels just right after plates of sea urchin and mapo tofu at Jiu’s downstairs lures you in. But it’s the plush velvet sofas, dusky pink light, and bowls of spicy peanuts that keep you lingering well past bedtime.
Early to Rise
1098 Jackson St., Nob Hill
A good weekend starts with bagels. A great weekend starts with Early to Rise bagels. Recently, Early to Rise pivoted from large communal brunches to weekend takeout (including a meticulous bagel kit and its famous brunch in a bag). The concept totally works. Chef Andrew McCormack cut his teeth at Quince and Jean-Georges, and each house-made crunchy-meets-chewy bagel thick with chive schmear and lox is a bite of heaven.
510 Stevenson St., Mid-Market
A friend (who happens to operate a storybook organic winery in Tuscany called Querceto di Castellina) turned us on to this Mid-Market pizza-and-wine spot. And this friend knows her wine and her pizza. Montesacro specializes in Roman-style pies called “pinsa,” oval-shaped, puffy flatbreads topped with tasty cheeses, meats, and veggies. These charred pinsa (try the “Ostia” topped with pecorino, grilled artichokes, fresh mint, and bottarga) are perfect for sharing, with a few antipasti like meatballs or fresh-from-Italy burrata doused in pesto. The food—and the minimalist setting—is so elegant for a weeknight dinner (there’s also an outdoor terrace). Lastly, Montesacro’s little grocery section is the ideal hunting ground for last-minute gifts, pantry items, and even fresh pinsa dough to rustle up your own version at home.
Hand-stretched noodle-making is an art few can (or do) master. William Lim Do cut his teeth at glitzy food establishments like Mister Jiu’s and State Bird Provisions, studied noodle-making in Lanzhou, China, and launched his highly coveted noodle kit pop-up during the pandemic. The waitlist for one of Laowai’s kits is in the thousands. Do makes every noodle, sauce, and pickle by hand and then delivers them himself. To taste the spicy, crunchy, scrumptiousness, sign up on the google doc link on Laowai’s Instagram, and…patiently wait your turn. This is one of the many incredible passion projects that have sprung up during quarantine, driven by a chef’s desire to share his craft with fellow San Franciscans.
1625 Post St., Japantown
Nari means “women” in Thai, which feels apt because women take center stage at this Japantown restaurant. Women lead the kitchen, the wine on the list is made by women, even the spirits stocked come from women-owned brands. The level of detail that touches everything here is off the charts, right down to diagrams of the glass shape your cocktail will arrive in. (Anyone else love a short tumbler and loathe a tall glass?) The food can only be described by a word we rarely use, because it’s so rarely applicable: authentic. These are the bold, spicy, sharp flavors we associate with trips to Bangkok. Chef Pim Techamuanvivit isn’t pandering to western expectations of what Thai food should be, instead, her shareable dishes are complex, powerfully flavorful, and impossible to forget. If you dine anywhere in San Francisco this year, make it Nari.
2339 Clement St., Richmond
Consider Fiorella your neighborhood red sauce joint, elevated with a dose of San Francisco polish. The classics—like meatballs, marinara pizza, and Little Gem salad—dominate the menu. But for Friday night takeout, we can’t resist the Sicilian spiced roast chicken with salsa verde and herby roast potatoes. Oh, and the make-at-home Margherita kit. When it comes to dining in, the wallpaper makes any wait worth it: Speckled with portraits of famous San Franciscans, it adds a quirky design edge to the otherwise streamlined space. Images courtesy of Grace Sager and Edna Zhou.
458 Grove St., Hayes Valley
Operated by a Night + Market alum, Thai pop-up Intu On brings spicy, explodes-with-flavor energy to Hayes Valley. This weekly pop-up moves around (follow them on Instagram to keep up), but you’ll usually find Intu On at Birba Wine Bar on Sundays. Must order: The shrimp toast. Why? A thick slice of milk bread, spread with a silky shrimp-and-pork mousse and topped with pickled chiles, is the perfect intro to the spicy, tangy Isaan-style food Intu On excels at. Image courtesy of Erin Ng.
2501 Mariposa St., Potrero Flats
The wine list at The Morris is insane. As in forty-nine-pages-long insane. And then come the brandies, the amari, and sherry options (also pages long). You can gather from the booze list alone that supper here is intended to be a slow, special affair—and yet, the vibe is unexpectedly casual. Take a seat and start with some Tartine bread and pâté. For your main, it has to be The Morris’s signature dish—a whole, crispy-skinned duck, with French fries and a little gem salad on the side. Split a chocolate pudding for dessert, and don’t neglect that sherry selection. Images courtesy of The Morris.